Torah Study in the Land of Israel

The book of Devarim opens with the words “elu hadevarim asher diber Moshe b’ever hayarden…”, “These are the words that Moshe addressed to all of Yisrael on the other side of the Jordan…”

According to the Sfat Emet, when B’nai Yisrael were on the other side of the Jordan, they already felt the holiness of the Land of Israel and the wellsprings of wisdom opened up. In Breishit Raba 16:4 we learn the following concept: “There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and no wisdom like the wisdom of Eretz Yisrael”. Just as Mount Sinai was the right mountain to receive the Torah, The Land of Israel is the right place to study and explain what the Torah is all about. On the other side of the Jordan, Moshe began to explain the Torah. Moshe begged God for the opportunity to enter the Land of Israel so that he would have the opportunity to fully teach Torah to B’nai Yisrael.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook points out that not only is the Land of Israel holy, the air is holy too. The atmosphere in Israel is pure. In Israel the connection between the individual Jew and God is direct. As it says in Devarim 11:12: “The eyes of God are always upon the Land of Israel…” The purity of this direct attachment brings wisdom.

Once Rabbi Kook was asked how he enjoyed learning in the famous Volozhin Yeshiva with the Netziv, Rabbi Naphtali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin (1817-1893) author of HaEmek Davar. Rabbi Kook answered: “It is like being in Eretz Yisrael”, however Torah study outside of the Land of Israel is only “like” being in the Land of Israel, it is not the same as really being in the Land of Israel.

Midrash Tehilim 105 teaches: “If you wish to see the Shechina in the world, learn Torah in the Land of Israel”.

Moshe got close to the Land of Israel, the other side of the Jordan. However, God did not grant him the opportunity to study and teach Torah in the Land of Israel.

Today, we are fortunate to have a range of opportunities to study Torah in the State of Israel.

Let’s seize these opportunities!